Everything Can Change

by David Rovics

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Early in 2013 I spent a day at Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon recording guitar and vocal parts to 17 songs, most of which I wrote over the course of the past year, mostly about politics, war and peace, US, Canadian and Israeli war crimes, hunger, homelessness, the usual stuff... We sent the tracks to Florida, where Alejandro Arenas and Jun Bustamante did their magic to each song at Alejandro's studio in St. Pete.


released May 18, 2013




David Rovics Portland, Oregon

"Absolutely brilliant. David Rovics says exactly what needs to be said."
Ian McMillan, BBC


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Track Name: What Do You Call It
What do you call it when a movement takes up arms
And seizes power by the barrel of a gun
Moves into the homes of those they've dispossessed
And says this whole country is ours now that we've won
What do you call a government that forces families from their homes
And turns them into refugees
All the while complaining of these dirty tent-dwellers
That it's they who want to drive us into the sea

What do you call a government that builds walls around the ghettos
And only looks at you through sniper sights
Who uses your cheap labor to build those very walls
While they tell the world how they believe in human rights
What do you call a government that makes war upon their neighbors
Who annexes land for living room
Who conducts a foreign policy based on threats and bombing raids
Whose opponents often end up in a prison or a tomb

What do you call a government who talks of enemies within
And seals off the camps to make sure they cannot eat
Who keeps their prisoners on diets to guarantee an early death
With their mantra, history cannot repeat
What do you call a government that puts numbers on the arms
Of the people that they torture and arrest
Whose soldiers commit war crimes systematically
While they proclaim their conduct is superior at best

What do you call a government that bombs its starving subjects
After taking from them everything they had
Whose citizens are soldiers, brainwashed to believe
Their opponents are fanatics, terrorists or mad
What do you call it when a movement takes up arms
And seizes power by the barrel of a gun
Moves into the homes of those they've dispossessed
And says this whole country is ours now that we've won
Track Name: Khader Adnan, Bobby Sands
Khader Adnan grew up near Jenin City
You could say he was a product of his time
Ever since he was a kid he'd get arrested
Though he was never charged with any crime
Spending half his life in prison
A life lived like so many of his friends
Arbitrary and indefinite detention
Never knowing if your jail time would end
Khader Adnan was arrested last December
Again he wasn't told the reason why
He was shackled, he was beaten, he was tortured
There beneath the Middle Eastern sky
Perhaps there was a moment when he realized
That right then, with his body, he'd say no
But from then on he refused to eat another meal
Like in Belfast not many years ago

Khader Adnan grew up in a war zone
But all the tanks and planes were only on one side
It was a type of war that they call occupation
Settlement, removal, fratricide
And anyone who talked about resistance
Who thought they did not deserve to be a slave
Would be looking down the barrel of a gun
And often find themselves inside an early grave
Khader Adnan loves his wife and daughters
And he likes to eat his daily bread
But in prison he can't see his children
Or live life with the lady that he wed
So on behalf of all the children without fathers
He decided he had to strike a blow
He said I will have dignity or death
Each time Khader Adnan was arrested
In prison he would learn a little more
And soon he became the teacher
And he'd talk about the times that came before
They talked about civil disobedience
They talked about the ballot and the gun
They talked about the Occupied Six Counties
And the H Blocks in 1981
Khader Adnan talked of perseverance
And how someday their people might be free
How someday they might hear their children laughing
Unafraid, how someday things could be
And then at 3:30 on one morning
The soldiers came, their rifles pointed low
And they took Khader Adnan from his family

They say Khader Adnan is a terrorist
Just like they said of Bobby Sands
Because he dares speak out against injustice
Because he dares to make a stand
Because he dares believe that he is human
And he does not deserve to live this way
Because he dares to consider an alternative
Because he dares imagine a new day
Khader Adnan lost his liberty before he was born
To fight for life it's death he must embrace
But just like others come before him
There are others waiting to take his place
And even the great powers can lose interest
In supporting such a vicious status quo
Because you can't break a man who won't be broken
Track Name: Vanunu
I was born in Marakesh and I thought life was good
Then some visitors came from far away, convinced my parents that we should
Move from Marakesh to Israel, what they called the Promised Land
That's how we ended up in Beersheva by the Negev Desert sand
I turned 18 and joined the Army, that's what everybody did
I learned to blow up bridges just like every other kid
I learned how to fire weapons, I learned how to shoot to kill
Then I studied engineering and learned many other skills
I got a job, paid the rent, working just like you
I just did what I had to do

As the years went by I learned many things
And I wondered what to do with the burden knowledge brings
I learned about the massacres committed in my name
After Sabra and Shatila life could never be the same
But I got up every morning, worked til the day was through

Working in the desert I did what I was told
Though I'd long ago rejected the bill of goods I had been sold
I was supposed to ask no questions but as the years passed by
I discovered what was going on there beneath the clear blue sky
I snuck a camera into work one day as my suspicions grew

Once I left the country I could sit no longer on the fence
I met with a reporter and displayed the evidence
Of the secret nuclear arsenal which I had helped to make
I had to blow the whistle for humanity's sake
The world simply had to find out the things my commanders knew

Mossad came to get me on the streets of Rome
Brought me in a boat back to my adopted home
After 18 years of torture in a tiny prison cell
On the streets some people ask me how I lived so long in hell
Each morning when I woke up I remembered it was true
Track Name: Corporations Are People, Too
A corporation doesn't have to feed a familyA corporation cannot be unemployed
A corporation can't get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Heart disease, brain tumors or hemroids
A corporation is set up with one motive And that is not to judge what's right or fair
A corporation's only goal is making money That's why a corporation doesn't care
A corporation can never sense the breeze upon its skin
Never know what it's like to miss a meal
A corporation doesn't have to worry Because a corporation cannot feel

A corporation can never know the beauty
It cannot wake up in a grove of ancient trees
It only sees a hundred thousand dollars And some mill jobs it can ship out overseas
A corporation can't care for a child Sickened by a toxic oil spill
A corporation only stands to profit From interest on the loan for the hospital bill
A corporation never goes to funerals Of any victims who may die along the way
A corporation cannot feel remorse A corporation never really has to pay

A corporation doesn't have a mouth But it often has many a mouthpiece
A corporation cannot shoot a gun But it can employ an army of police
A corporation can never go to prison No matter how horrible the crime
But a corporation can send lobbyists to Congress
To make sure more of us are doing time
A corporation doesn't feel the pain Of a child raised by a TV set
And the corporations will just get bailed out
If their clients fall too deeply into debt

Corporations can't be rounded up and shot
A corporation can't be tortured through the night
A corporation can't be blown up by an IED A corporation cannot ever see the sight
A corporation can't be killed by a tsunami
A corporation cannot drown beneath the tide
A corporation doesn't care who wins the war
If they can just sell weapons to both sides A corporation exists only to make money
A corporation never questions why A corporation doesn't suffer consequences
Because a corporation doesn't live and doesn't die
Track Name: Kick It While It's Down
I'd say the verdict now is clear Capitalism really sucks
Privatizing everything for years Left most of us shit outta luck
The dreams most of us once had are dead The jobs around don't pay
Shit I barely have a roof over my head
And I've heard most of my neighbors say

If this is the glory of the market Tent City, USA
Then let's take this powder keg and spark it After all it's the American Way
Let us now look through a different prism
Let us work for the common good
Let us put an end to capitalism Let us do now as we should
Kick it while it's down

The capitalists are parasites The bane of society
They don't give a shit for human rights All they care about is money
The billionaires buy the Congress Then they make up all the rules
So if voting is no way to seek redress Then we must use other tools

Half the country is in drought Burning up and blowing away
It's a climate crisis there's no doubt But be that as it may
The market says it's time to drill for oil
The market says cut down all the trees
The market says build pipelines 'neath the soil
But in recent years the market's on its knees

We need solar panels not coal mines We need food not bombs
But the market doesn't care about the bread lines Or your hungry mom
The market only cares about the market What's behind the guarded gate
So you can take your limousine and park it Trade it in for a welfare state
Track Name: A Dream Foreclosed
Life used to be so normal I remember how normal it was
Take a shower, eat breakfast, go to work every morning
Do the things a fella does
We paid our mortgage every month Managed that OK
But when the mortgage doubled Then we couldn't pay
And now life takes a turn I never had supposed
Living in a dream foreclosed

I'd go off to work My kids would go to school
I even joined the Army once Now I feel like such a fool
It's not that life was easy then But at least it made some sense
You weren't worried about freezing to death
Not like living in these tents
You weren't worried about the cops Getting out a firehose

Lots of folks in town don't realize How we're living these days
But you can see it in the childrens' Thousand-mile gaze
I've got a head full of home movies About all the things I miss
They say we need four walls
But they weren't talking of walls like this
Maybe we'll go find another country to live in
'Cause life in this one blows
Track Name: Ballad of Eola Park
In the land of Minnie Mouse and Mickey things are getting icky
Since the municipality
Of Orlando, Florida passed a moritaria
Against feeding hungry people in their city
The mayor said with a scoff we'd all be better off
Without these food terrorists lurking like a shark
So he did declare -- semaritans beware!
No more feeding hungry people in the park

And if you do you'd better raise your bail
'Cause you will be fined five hundred bucks and sent to jail

There are many things that you can do when you're passing through
That are much more acceptable than that
Go on amusement rides, eat things that are fried
Buy each one of your kids a little hat
You can stay in a hotel, pretend everything is swell
Go to Sea World and hear the seals bark
But whatever else you have in mind you will be in a bind
If you feed the hungry people in the park

Yes you can drink some wine, have yourself a good time
Have a good vacation, then retire
But if you want to stir up trouble, if you'd deign to pop the bubble
And try to feed the hungry people of the shire
In such a public place, we can't suffer such disgrace
Though the logic may seem a little stark
What would the neighbors say, where will the children play
If you keep feeding hungry people in the park
Track Name: Everything Can Change
First you have to have a problem
That part isn't hard
The second step is everybody realizing
They're like you -- they're holding the same card
Step three is finding there's a tactic
When everyone believes it could be true
That if all the people work collectively
There just might be something we can do

Everything can change so quick

The Congressmen and businessmen and TV sets
Will try hard to make sure it isn't so
"You don't have a problem and if you do it's not the SAME problem
"And if it is, well, there's just nowhere you can go"
But it's happened many times, the history is rich
Though we easily forget
How a meme can take hold and grab you
How it can spread out like a net

They'll say that we are lost, or we're dreaming
Or they'll make a dream for us
They'll try to come up with a good story, a convincing narrative
About why we belong at the back of the bus
About why we belong in this position
About how we don't know what we meant
About how there most certainly isn't any such thing
As the 99%
Track Name: Comets of Kandahar
The Twin Towers came down in 2001
Bush said Bin Laden must pay for what he'd done
The Taleban offered to turn him over to a court
But the USA said to them we'll have nothing short
Of an invasion of your country by imperial command
We'll bomb your villages, steal your land
Your children can cower in fear just before they die
As the comets of Kandahar are streaming through the sky

We'll overthrow your government and put there in its place
A kleptocratic oil man, a national disgrace
Who can bleed your country dry, make sure your people pay
While we kill innocent civilians every single day
With missile strikes from above the clouds, an F-33
And we'll call it liberation, we'll call it democracy
We'll send the death squads out to kill you if you dare to question why

And as your nation crumbles, as the rubble turns to dust
As the Russian tanks and helicopters blacken with the rust
As the children die and their parents take up arms
To defend their dignity, their religion, their cities and their farms
Canadian crusaders will meet the fate of ages
Facing men who say of them as the battle rages
If I had a rocket launcher some son of a bitch would die
Track Name: Pipeline
As soon as they started drilling for oil they started building pipelines
On the seabed, through the forests and across the borderlines
As soon as they started laying the pipe they said we'll do this safely
There will never be an accident, we can do this carefully
But the sands shift, the ice melts, disasters are routine
Point out their record of destruction and they'll say their hands are clean
Point out their woeful deeds and they'll consult their banker
And say it's safer to use a pipeline than an oil tanker
So now they want to see how far their madness it can go
A pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico

The tar sands lie in the north beneath Alberta's ground
As the price of oil rises and the oil men have found
Now there's profit to be made in a madman's dream
By drilling deep beneath the Earth, blasting it with steam
Bulldozing the land, melting what's inside
A record of extinction a thousand miles wide
But laying waste to the northern plains is evidently not enough
The capitalists need markets where they can sell this toxic stuff
So across the farms and prairies the oil now must flow
A pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico

Governors oppose it and every native band
Ranchers don't want it passing through their land
Union leaders have denounced it as have the rank and file
The President delayed it for just a little while
They say you can't stop progress, I hope that isn't true
'Cause if we mine the tar sands, if we let the pipeline through
It will be a pipeline to oblivion, a pipeline to the end
A pipeline to a future with nothing round the bend
A pipeline to a future that I hope we'll never know
A pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico
Track Name: Houseboat
I was staying with a friend in Hackney
One day I took a walk to a canal
I got swept up as I wrote
By a man in a trench coat
Who lived inside a ship called Happy Sal

I asked him if he missed life off the water
He said no, he didn't give that any mind
I just live here with the flow
Going where the rivers go
So glad to leave that landlord far behind

I want to live in a houseboat on the river
I want the locks to pick me up and let me down
I want the morning dew to make me shiver
As I ride from Hebden Bridge to London town

We moored on the banks right by the commons
Where we had front row seats to the fair
We stayed about a week
Then we drifted down the creek
Our destination: anywhere

Some folks just really want to be
Upstanding members of society
Well whatever floats your boat
Have a castle with a mote
While I drift along the valley to the sea
Track Name: Aurora Massacre
The survivors will hug and tell their stories
With flashing lights the living and the dead
Will be taken to the morgues and to the hospitals
We'll hear about the last words that they said
At least if it was a notable occasion
Like if it happened just down the road from Columbine
If the victims numbered in the dozens
The murder plan especially malign

The governor will talk about the senselessness
The madness that must explain the crime
Some will ask about the guns, six thousand rounds of ammunition
He bought legally all at the same time
If the murders were especially dramatic
This man will have his week of fame
But by around this time next year
Just a few will remember his name

Fewer still will remember his victims
In this great nation that seems to have no peer
And who can blame us for our amnesia
With fourteen thousand killed by guns last year
But for now they'll talk about his methods
They'll ask how he came to be this way
They'll hire more policemen in the theaters
It's another massacre in the USA

They'll ask about his schooling
Who could have seen these warning signs
Some will ask why he had access
To buying an assault combine
Former victims will speak out on the TV
They'll have a platform for just a little while
Until something else takes over
Like a storm or a fire or the latest summer style
They'll talk about violent films and video games
The social disconnection of the youth
They'll talk about the cubicles and headsets
With each one separated in a little booth
They'll talk about bullying in schools
They'll talk about all sorts of social ills
They'll ask if he smoked marijuana
And if he was on any kinds of pills

The corpses will be removed from the theater
They'll replace the seats and wash away blood stains
The NRA will lay low for a week or two
While pouring money into electoral campaigns
The President will praise the First Responders
And ask God for these madmen to be cured
The Assault Weapons Ban will be voted down in Congress
And the next massacre will be assured
Track Name: Wal-Mart
There’s a thousand acres becoming clear
Cut down the forest, the big one’s here
Cover the ground with a mass of tar
Make sure there’s room for every car
One floor half mile massive sprawl One store wonder super mall
It’s spreading out far and wide Taking over the countryside
Say goodbye to your forests, they’re going down
Wal-Mart is coming to town

Your sons and daughters will have a fit
At the mountains of plastic shit
Chinese prisoners will sweat and bleed
And you’ll get all the stuff you need
Walton’s children profits reap Buying low and selling cheap
And what happens to mom and pop
Turn the key and close the shop
Say goodbye to your city, it’s shutting down

There goes the local department store See the diner shut it’s door
No more neighbors you can meet
More ghosts than people on the street
No more jobs with living pay
Sam Walton took it all away
Beneath fluorescent lights they’ll work you bare
The lucky ones can get on welfare
Forget your children’s cap and gown
Track Name: Four More Years
You can say you are a man of the people
And you have our interests in mind
You can say you stand with the working class
And you would march on our picket lines
You can say you're with the underdogs
Not the billionaires on Wall Street
And you look so earnest as you shake the hands
Of all the good people you meet But you don't fool me

You can call yourself a man of action
You can say we've got to make haste
You can talk so convincingly About all the hazards we face
You can talk about green jobs With nukes and natural gas
You can reminisce about your youth
And the time that you smoked some grass

You can say you are a man of peace
You can talk like you know the score
Yeah, if you were in the Senate at the time
You would've voted against the war
You can say that every drone Strikes a blow for liberty
You claim this is not an empire You just want everyone to be free

You can make a speech about hope and change
You can bring us all to tears
You can list all your accomplishments Say give us four more years
You can make the case your party is So different from the other
You can say that you have got my back
You can call yourself my brother
Track Name: Democrats Make Me Wanna Vomit
Wilson said he was an isolationist
And he would not send our young men off to die
But as soon as he won the race for president
That turned out to be just another lie
Truman said he wouldn't kill civilians
And he didn't want to hurt nobody's mom
But as soon as he had the opportunity
He went and dropped the fucking atom bomb
Kennedy, he said he was a man of peace But with the battle plan unfurled
He sent the US Navy to the Cuban shore
And then he just about blew up the world

Democrats make me wanna vomit Liberals make me wanna hack
They love to talk like they are friends of you and me
And then every time they stab us in the back
Every time they stab us in the back

Then there is that guy we knew as LBJ He was the one for “great society”
He sent his Air Force down to blow up Vietnam
To make sure that those folks were good and free
Jimmy was the one who talked of human rights
Human rights for everybody, ha ha ha
He was opposed to dictatorship and torture
That's why he loved Suharto and the Shah

Bill was from a little town in Arkansas He was just another Joe
That's why when all the people said don't do it
He went and signed the WTO
Some people might think I'm cynical And I don't know why that would be
So even though they voted for the war
Now I'm going for Barack and Hilary
Track Name: David Rovics and Micah Archer - Sunshine
I met you in a chat room on the web, discussing war and peace
The relationship of land disputes, climate and other indices
It was your punctuation that first made me want to see your face
But this was before Facebook, that's how it was back then in cyberspace
Then one night I fell asleep and woke up having dreamed
The world had shifted a bit, things weren't as they seemed
And when I googled "sunshine" you came up first page, first line

Strange to feel nostalgic for someone I never met
I'd never seen your picture but I'd think of you and sweat
But then there came the conference where you and I would both present
And we had lunch together on the campus in a tent
And in person you shone brighter even than on my computer screen
I was almost forty then but I felt about thirteen

That was a long time ago and well now here we are
I'm driving down the highway wishing you were in the car
But I know when I get home you'll be standing there
Glowing with the warmth of a little solar flare
And later when you're sleeping I'll look at you and sigh
I'll wonder how there there ever came to be such a thing as you and I
Track Name: A Christmas Song
I'm a big fan of the season, I like this time of year
When everyone's out shopping and drinking lots of beer
When folks are taking holidays to visit mom and dad
Telling jokes and stories about good times they had
But when I leave the house to go most anywhere
I find myself accosted and now it's more than I can bear
So to the scum who run Clearchannel I must offer this rebuke
If I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke

Well I like going sledding, riding in a sleigh
In fact I might just take my kid to a good hill today
But if I hear those jingle bells ring one more fucking time
I might just lose my shit in Macy's and commit an awful crime
Next time I go out shopping it won't be a pretty sight
When I hear one more person crooning about Christmas being white
I wish I could make Sinatra eat his god damn uke
If I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke

I just love those furry reindeer and I'd like to see one fly
And I'd like to see a red-nosed one light up the night-time sky
But all five hundred versions of it make me feel so bleak
When I have to hear each one of them a thousand times a week
I don't care if it's a big band, rock & roll or what
Each time I hear that ballad I can feel it in my gut
I start getting queasy like I just swallowed Santa's tewk
If I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke

Now I'm sure Frosty was a good guy, he was made of snow
And I'm sure that the North Pole is a place I'd like to go
But if they play that song again on the radio
Then there's something that seems only fair for you all to know
Next time I go out to a restaurant or walk into a store
It's quite likely I will make a big mess upon the floor
It will be an accident but it will not be a fluke
'Cause if I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke

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